It isn't always easy to tell when someone is sick in real life. Lots of illnesses tend to affect the inside more than the outside.
In media, however, you'll know when someone is sick just by looking at their nose. If they are sick, their nose (and less often, their cheeks as well) will be bright red, to show the audience that they're sick.
This is rarely Truth in Television. Only a few specific conditions (such as skin rashes or irritation from frequent congestion-induced nose-blowing) specifically cause redness of the nose. As stated above, most illnesses are not totally obvious. However, its omnipresence in media has led to the misconception where all illnesses cause red noses. That being said, more localized redness elsewhere on the body is a relatively common sign of disease, being one of the five cardinal signs of inflammation.
Compare Luminescent Blush, which is caused by embarrassment rather than illness, Green Around the Gills, which is specific to nausea, and Polka-Dot Disease, another type of fictional disease that's easy to spot. See also Drunken Glow, where alcohol instead of illness is the cause of the redness.
- Kari got this in one episode of Digimon Adventure when she fell ill.
- Mepple had a cold and developed mildly red cheeks late in one episode of Futari wa Pretty Cure .
- Ash has a red nose and cheeks in one episode of Pokémon upon catching a cold while fighting Greninja.
- Yo Kai Watch:
- In "Yo-Kai Sproink", Bear and Eddie both have this after exiting a hot spring, implying them to both be feeling ill.
- At the end of the episode "Yo-Kai Duchoo", Nate gets a red nose and cheeks upon catching a real cold.
- Despite Tissues' (of Inanimate Insanity) condition not giving him a red nose or cheeks in the actual series, there are numerous fanarts of him with this, likely to boost the sickly factor.
- In this unnamed Mork & Mindy fanfiction, Mork has what appears to be a cold and his nose is described as being "nearly as red as the striped pajamas he was wearing".
- Talked about in Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang, when Algernon is talking about the possibility of an enemy soldier catching a cold and accidentally "hitting the Big Red Button with his big, red nose."
- In the children's book The Sniffles for Bear, Bear's snout turns red when he has a cold.
- Played with in The Worst Thing About My Sister when Marty fakes illness by hiding under her whale plushie so that her face will be hot and then scribbling on her face with a red crayon. Her mother is not fooled, though.
- Zigzagged in Cold And Flu Invasion: None of the sick customers appear red, but the player character gets a red face if he's close to catching a cold.
- In the online game Vet Set Go, all the pets have red cheeks, even though they're either furry, feathery, a reptile, or a fish. These red cheeks go away when they're cured.
- In Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, whenever Mrs Tiger catches a cold (it's happened twice), her cheeks will be red, even though she's furry.
- An abundance of this was used in the Goofy short "Cold War", to the point where the cold germ's defining trait was its red nose.
- In the Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs episode "Achoo", Harry has a cold and he's animated with a slight pinkish tinge under his nose and eyes.
- The Looney Tunes short "Odor of the Day" has a dog catching a cold that makes him immune to a Smelly Skunk. The dog's black nose turns red to show this.
- In the Mr. Men episode about Mr. Sneeze, Mr. Sneeze lives in a very cold place called "Coldland" and everyone has a red nose because they have a cold from the cold weather. Once it warms up, they instantly recover and their noses turn normal.
- Greg had a red nose in the PJ Masks episode "Greg's Stay-At-Home Sneezes", since he had a cold.
- Carrot has a red nose in the Ready Jet Go! episode "Endless Summer", due to having a cold.
- In one episode of Time Squad, Otto's nose and eyes turn red when he wakes up with a nasty cold.